DETROIT – Ford Motor Co. (F) shares fell as much as 6.6 percent on Monday after some analysts forecast tough times for the second-largest U.S. automaker.
Robert Barry of Goldman Sachs (GS) suggested investors sell the stock after Ford's announcement on Friday of a 21 percent cut in fourth-quarter production. He said the shares had reflected cost-cutting and asset sales, and "fundamentals are worsening."
Ford shares were off 42 cents, or 5.1 percent, at $7.58 in morning New York Stock Exchange trade after falling as low as $7.47 earlier in the session. The stock is still up almost 22 percent in the past month.
Ford on Friday said it would cut fourth-quarter production to its lowest level in 25 years and also reduce third-quarter production.
The automaker, which is battling shrinking U.S. market share and rising costs, had said it would accelerate its turnaround plan, dubbed the "Way Forward," to respond to weakening U.S. demand for fuel-hungry trucks and SUVs amid high gasoline prices.
"It warrants noting that massive production cuts to key platforms (F-Series, SUVs) evidence a business in secular decline," Barry wrote in a research note.
As part of its second restructuring plan in four years, Ford plans to close 14 plants and cut up to 30,000 factory jobs through 2012.
"Further employee cuts and plant closings under a new Way Forward plan do nothing to slow an eroding top line," Barry wrote.
Keybanc Capital analyst Brett Hoselton said he expected Ford's earnings and cash flow to deteriorate in 2006 and 2007.
"We do not believe Ford's 'Way Forward Version 2.0' update in September will be inspiring," Hoselton said.
For the full year, the No. 2 automaker now plans to make 3.048 million vehicles in North America, down 9 percent from 2005.
Ford said the production cuts were necessary because high gasoline prices were hurting sales of pickup trucks. The company dominates the lucrative pickup truck market, with the F-series alone accounting for 30 percent of its annual sales.
Ford is also reducing third-quarter output by 20,000 vehicles, on top of a cut of 40,000 announced in July.
JP Morgan analyst Himanshu Patel wrote: "While we are intrigued by the restructuring chances at Ford in the long term, we see a tough road over the next 12 to 18 months given the limited amount of high margin and high volume product renewals/introductions."
The Dearborn, Michigan-based company, which has not gained U.S. market share since 1995, is under pressure to speed up cost-cutting efforts after a $254 million loss in the second quarter and worse-than-expected July U.S. sales.
Ford accounted for 18.1 percent of 2006 U.S. auto sales through July, down from a 25.7 percent share in 1995. Its vehicle sales have fallen 9.7 percent through July.